With a new single and his first touring gig, up-and-coming singer Wrabel is gearing up for pop stardom.
The veteran songwriter stopped by PEOPLE’s New York headquarters to talk about his musical journey and famous friends. Here are five things to know about the rising star.
1. Kesha once gave him a homemade tattoo — and helped him celebrate his first music video!
Wrabel (né Stephen Wrabel) released the music video for his new single “11 Blocks” in September, and pal Kesha — and her mom Pebe Sebert! — were on hand to celebrate the exciting milestone of hearing the track on the radio for the first time.
“The first time you hear your song on the radio, as an artist, is a landmark occasion u never forget,” Kesha captioned an Instagram video of Wrabel dancing around to the tune. “[You] grow up dreaming of what it will feel like and put every ounce of your energy and hope into it, and when it happens, it’s pure emotional magic.”
But the “TiK ToK” singer isn’t just Wrabel’s friend and fan — she’s also his tattoo artist!
“Kesha gave me this little smiley face with a little needle,” Wrabel — who just started getting body art in the past two years — tells PEOPLE. “I was really sad and kind of going through a lot, and she actually has a little smiley on her foot, so we have little matching [ink]. She gave me [a] heart, too. It hurt so bad! And I sang Whitney Houston ‘How Will I Know’ at the top of my lungs the whole time.”
2. He’s been musical since he was a kid.
Now 27, Wrabel says he began playing piano when he was 15 or 16.
“I started out by just banging on things and seeing what sounds good,” he says.
3. He’s written songs for Adam Lambert, Ellie Goulding and more.
Since getting into songwriting professionally, Wrabel has written tracks for a number of mainstream artists, including Adam Lambert (“Nirvana” off of the the Trespassing deluxe edition), Ellie Goulding (“Devotion” from her recent Delirium) and Pentatonix (“Rose Gold,” a cut on their debut set of originals).
As for his latest appearance in an all-star’s liner notes? Idina Menzel, for whom he co-wrote “Everybody Knows,” off her self-titled LP, released this fall.
4. He’s on tour for the first time — and could use some packing lessons.
Now on the road with Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammer, “I think I will successfully go through a two-month tour without doing laundry,” Wrabel says. “I pack everything I own. I kind of black out, and then there’s humongous bags packed!”
5. He’s open to recording genre-spanning music.
Though his original tunes have an R&B and singer-songwriter vibe, Wrabel recently teamed up with EDM powerhouse and cult deejay Marshmello to release the new electropop single “Ritual” on Tuesday.